Gilliland, Douglas Scott
Jun 9, 1950 - Oct 11, 2020
Douglas Scott Gilliland (70), beloved husband, father, brother, brother in-law, uncle and friend to many, passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, October 11th surrounded by family and his three faithful pooches. Doug fought a courageous 7 1/2 year battle against metastatic cancer, never complaining and always continuing to pursue his passions.
Douglas was born in South Bend, Indiana, in 1950, to the late Richard C. and Emilie I. Gilliland. The family, including four children, moved to Sarasota in early 1953. The clan, which would eventually include four more children (six boys, two girls) grew up on a then quiet Crescent Beach on Siesta Key. This was where Doug developed his love of the water, including fishing, sailing, and surfing.
Doug married Deborah Jeanne Rupprecht on February 18, 1984 in Sarasota where they both grew up. They had two sons, Taylor and Carson, and spent many wonderful family vacations camping and enjoying the outdoors. He instilled in them a love and respect for nature and an appreciation of the role science plays in everyday life.
Doug graduated from Riverview High School in 1968 and from USF in 1972 with a degree in Social Science Education. At 22, he became the first, and only, male social worker in the State Family Services Unit in Sarasota. Doug later spent 40 years as a teacher in Sarasota County, a career he loved. He was twice selected as Teacher of the Year at Sarasota High where he taught Physical Science. He was recognized by the School Board as a Model Classroom Teacher and was designated a High Tech teacher. He was one of the first teachers to extensively use computers in the classroom and authored his own educational software that was adopted by many others. It is a testament to his passion for teaching that he often heard from former students who credited him with inspiring them to follow careers in science.
Doug was an avid kayaker. He loved being on the water in one of his many boats and shared his enjoyment of the sport with family and friends. He was a former President of the Florida Sea Kayaking Association and enjoyed organizing kayaking adventures for others to join. He was highly regarded in the kayaking community not only for his skills but also for his friendliness and willingness to help others develop their paddling abilities.
Doug was also an inveterate animal lover. In 2011, he began volunteering as a dog walker at the Sarasota County Animal Services shelter. In 2013 he was named Volunteer of the Year by the Sheriff's Office. He, his sister, Gail, and other volunteers formed LEAD SRQ, a not- for-profit organization whose mission is to provide behavioral and/or medical support to rescued and shelter animals. While facing cancer in his own life, Doug was also a Hospice Pet Therapy volunteer. He and his therapy dog, Colby, brought much joy to patients over the years until he became a Hospice client himself in April.
Doug was preceded in death by his parents and brother Scott. Left to cherish his memory are his wife of 37 years, Debi, his sons Taylor of Washington, DC, and Carson of Lincoln, NE, brothers Gregg (Connie) of Tampa, Kim (Patti), Gary (Vikki), Mark (Noel), sisters Ann Duncan and Gail Balkwill (Bill), all of Sarasota, and his dogs Colby, Bella and Harry. He will be missed by many extended family members and dear friends. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date when it is safe to do so. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to LEAD SRQ, 1650 Keely Lane, Sarasota, FL 34232 or Tidewell Hospice, Philanthropy Dept., 5955 Rand Boulevard, Sarasota, FL 34238. Funeral arrangements by Your Traditions Funeral Home.